New York, NY, July 11, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has filed an amicus brief joined by 23 faith leaders and religious and cultural organizations challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the 1996 "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA). Joining ADL on the brief was a distinguished group of religious and cultural organizations representing many different faith traditions and communities.
The case now pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is Golinkski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
"A diverse and impressive coalition of religious organizations challenging the application of DOMA signed on to our brief to argue that religious views of marriage must be kept distinct from a civil understanding of marriage," said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. "The ill-conceived and discriminatory 1996 law flouts this longstanding constitutional principle not only by writing one particular religious understanding of marriage into federal law, but also by failing to provide a secular reason for doing so."
In February 2012, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California declared DOMA unconstitutional, holding that equal protection of the law extends to all civilly married couples -- including same-sex couples -- while recognizing the Constitutional freedom of religious institutions to choose how to define religious marriage.
"While religious motivation improperly drove DOMA, and reflected a religious and moral condemnation of gay men and lesbians, the result of the law has gone beyond this. DOMA has had a real impact on real people," said Ms. Lauter. "Yet, as this brief demonstrates, there are important religious voices that strongly oppose DOMA, too. Our coalition stands squarely behind the proposition that the LGBT community should not be denied due process and equal protection under the law, particularly under the guise of religion and morality."
The law firm Ropes and Gray LLP prepared the friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of ADL. Signatories to the brief include the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, the Union for Reform Judaism, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, Hadassah, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the People for the American Way Foundation on behalf of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, the California Council of Churches, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.